Reflecting on 25 years of marriage, Pastor Bob Kraning shares biblical advice on how to have a marriage that will last a lifetime. (Part 2 of 2)
Rev. Bob Kraning: So there’ve been disappointments, there has been stress in our marriage, we have had illness, I have had two major surgeries, we have had debts. I look at all the things we’ve had in our marriage and I think it’s pretty normal. I think it’s the things that other people have in their marriages. And somehow within the thrust of that, we’ve been able to put together 25 years and we’re still excited about another 25, if God should give it to us.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Well, that’s Bob Kraning and he’s reflecting on only 25 years of marriage and not only did God give him and his wife, Carol, another 25, but they’ve been married for 60 years. You’ll hear how to get the most out of your marriage today at Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Sixty years, John! I mean, that’s a lot of experience! And Bob and Carol Kraning sure seem the right ‘recipe’, I guess you’d call it, for a long-term marriage, as we heard last time. If you missed part one yesterday, please get in touch with us-- this is the real stuff. We can send you the entire message on CD or an audio download so you can listen again or share it with a friend who might need some of those ‘recipe’ ideas to make their marriage stronger.
John: And if you haven’t listened on our app yet, you can get that as well. The CD, download and app available at focusonthefamily.com/radio or call and we’d be happy to tell you more-- our number is 800-A-FAMILY.
Okay, here’s Pastor Bob Kraning, speaking at Forest Home Christian Camps. He was Director there at the time and he’s speaking from Ephesians chapter 4, verses 25 to 32 and along the way you’ll hear him refer back to a book he’s been quoting from. It’s called,by Cecil Osborne.
Bob: You need to have a daily time that is set to talk. And people say, “That is dumb; we live together.” I said, “Yeah, I know you live together, but you don’t talk together.” Walk in any restaurant and look around the restaurant and you can spot all the married people. They’re not talking. (Laughter) You just walk in a restaurant and watch the next time you go. You’ll see all the engaged couples and all the dating people are in intense conversations.
All the married people are eating (Laughter) or they’re just sitting. They haven’t even gotten their food and they’re just sitting. They’re just sitting kinda looking at the ceiling (Laughter) and looking over other people. And then, every now and then, one of them will go, “Ba-dump” and the other one will go, “What?” (Laughter) And then they’ll say it again and that person will respond. And then, they’ll look for ... you just look around the next time. You’re laughing, but you look around. Married people tend not to talk.
And then they hit a problem and they don’t know how to talk. And it’s unbelievable that we learn in marriage how not to talk. That’s hard to believe, but we do. I think a lot of it has to do with being together all the time. I think it has to do with children. Our kids begin, as they’re small, they tend to monopolize conversations and we get to where we don’t communicate well together on a one-to-one. I think it’s one of the reasons that men find it difficult to pray with their wives. That’s a big factor in Christian marriages. Husbands and wives don’t pray together. And I think one of the big reasons is they don’t communicate well; therefore, they don’t pray well. Prayer is communication any way you want to cut it. See and it ... we’ve gotta talk.
And one of the great ways we get through angry moments and I think one of the things that’s helped Carol and I--and I tend to be silent--Carol wants to get things solved. Like Carol tends to come at me. She wants it solved. She wants to know the answer. She wants to know how I feel. And she wants to know what’s going on and she wants to be reassured. Osborne says in his book, “When your wife asks you if you love her, she’s not asking for information; she’s asking for reassurance.”
We’ve got to talk. We’ve gotta be able to communicate with each other and to be able to talk through those kind of things. If we don’t, we tend to get destructive; we get sarcastic; we get verbally abusive; we pull up old problems and make them current and some people even hit.
I grew up in a home where, if my dad would have ever hit my mom, I’d have passed out flat on the floor. I … you know, I just … I could never hit a woman in all my life. I mean, that’s so far from my thinking and yet, I counsel people who hit. People who hit have run out of ideas, see. (Laughter) And they’re just ... there’s no more ideas, so you hit. (Laughter) And that’s kind of a crazy thing, okay? But those are the kind of things that happen out of anger.
And then, probably the most important thing he says in this passage is, “Don’t let the devil get a foothold.” I’m convinced that the devil gets his toes in the best in a long-term anger situation. You get a couple that get in a hassle and can’t get it solved, all of a sudden, you’ve got a husband who’s getting strokes from his secretary; you’ve got a wife who’s gettin’ strokes at work or somewhere else. And all of a sudden, you’ve got an extra affair going on, because people can’t solve a problem within the structure of the marriage. And all the devil needs is one little crack.
I’ve got a very close personal friend in the ministry who the devil got a toe into his life in this area this year and he has done, probably ... will probably never be in the ministry again. He wrote me a letter and he said, “This happened in a way that I cannot believe.” In his letter, he said, “The devil duped me.” And he’s a guy who’s preached about that for the last 22 years, has been a very close personal friend of mine, but he ... the … the devil got a foothold. He just got a toe in the crack in a situation.
You say, “Well, that cannot be and that could never happen to me.” Folks, there, but for the grace of God, walk I and uh ... I’m just saying, boy, to me, long-term anger situations in a marriage are a great place for the devil to get a foothold. He’ll get in there and begin something that becomes incredibly destructive. And he warns us about it, that long-term anger will do that. So, I encourage you in that area. Agree to disagree. Make room for one another.
Let me just tell you about some of the differences between Carol and I. We talked about this. We ... we’re different people in some areas. I’m a sports freak-- and I’m not as bad now as I used to be, but I’m still bad. But I used to be awful. I’ll tell you how bad I am. I was in Bonn, Germany when Carol and I were in Europe this year-- I was in Bonn, Germany at a convention and a guy walked up to me and introduced himself; found out I was from Forest Home and introduced himself. Paul and I began to talk and the longer we talked, I thought, I know this guy. I know this guy. And he kept talking, you know, and he’s the head of Navigators for Europe; he’s the European Director of the Navigators organization. And we were talking and all of a sudden, I said-- he’s telling me some major thing and I-- and as my wife has told many of you, I’m a terrible listener and I’m turning over-- he’s telling me this marvelous thing about the Navigators and I’m thinking, who is this guy? Who is this guy? And right in the middle of this conversation, I went, “Army. You were an All-American fullback from Army.” (laughter) And he’s in another world, I mean, he’s telling me something totally-- and he just stopped. And he says, “What?” And I said, “You were an All-American fullback at Army.” I said, “You were there at the same time Roger Starbuck was at Navy.” He said, “How did you know that?” I said, “I used to be a sports freak. I knew I knew who you were the minute I saw you and heard your name.” And we laughed-- he laughed for about 10 minutes. He said, “Kraning, I’m trying to be spiritual and you’re talking Army!” (laughter)
But that’s how I used to turn, my head just turned that way. I knew everybody and I knew everything they’d ever done. And I married a wife who is very much into classical music; she really enjoys classical music. Classical music to me is strange, uh... but you know, it’s interesting-- those are two very big differences we have. I’m very much a private person away from Forest Home. I do not like to entertain in our home. I do not like to have lots of people at our home. If we never had anybody for dinner but our family, I’d be totally content. And some of you are going, I-- that’s hard for me to believe! But I’m like that. I’m a very private person at home. And my home is not a hotel. It never has been and it probably never will be. And I’m just like that. Carol loves to-- if we have 28 people every night for dinner, Carol would be thrilled. She loves people at our home! She loves to have people in; she loves to entertain. And she knows that I’m private and she tends to not entertain much because of that. But I’ve had to make allowances there. We’re two very different people there. And we think differently there.I’m an only child and I never had to apologize very often as a kid, occasionally to my parents just to keep peace, but I never apologized much.
Carol grew up in a family of five kids. Carol apologized every day just to survive. (Laughter) And we’re two totally different people. It’s very hard for me to apologize. It’s very hard for me to say: “I’m sorry.” It’s very easy for Carol, often. Carol will make many more concessions to me at that point than I will to her.
We talked about it; she brought up that recently, and uh ... (Laughter), no, but it was in a healthy conversation we were talking about this week. I said, “What are our differences?” and she brought that up immediately. She said, “Your `only child’ background. You’re totally different than I am.” I look back over our marriage, and I said to Carol the other day, I said, “Don’t you feel we get angry a lot less? And when we do sometimes get bugged, it’s over more important things than it used to be.”
You know, it usually is over an issue now, some major issue that either has to do with how we feel about a conviction in some area [on which] we just don’t agree, rather than just the little nitty-picky things that come up all the time, where you just ... you just get mad for no reason: “I’m just mad. I don’t, you know, I’m just mad. You just came in looking funny, and I’m mad,” you know, or “He said he’d be home at five, and he got home at seven after, and I’m just bugged,” you know. Those are the kind of things you go through sometimes early in a marriage.
I think with the maturity of a marriage, you tend to make your anger worthwhile (Laughter), not how you handle it, but what it’s over. It be ... it’s over major issues. And you tend to find that in major issues, you have to talk them through. You’ve gotta get through them. And they’re critical issues.
And we’ve been through some tough talk times, but boy, get time when you talk. You can’t shut doors. You can’t go out and drive around the block for five hours in your car. Somewhere you gotta come back and face it. See, and people do that. They get in the car and just drive; I’m gonna drive; I’m mad. I’m gonna drive. Well, that’s fine, except for the people that are out there on the street, you know and uh ... they may not be thrilled that you’re out there driving.
Okay, next thing that he talks about. “Let him who steals, steal no longer.” I just tried to write down four things that we steal in a marriage and I’m sure you could add to this list maybe 10 other things.
The first thing I wrote down was time. We tend to steal time a great deal. A little thing that I read recently, where a guy wrote down. He said, “If you put your work factor into 50 hours a week, okay, some of you maybe 40, but let’s say 50; some of you are up to 90 and I hope you ... God speaks to while you are here this week ‘cause you’re in trouble. But let’s say you work 50 hours a week and let’s say you spend 10 hours driving to and from work. Let’s say you sleep 56 hours. Now you can adjust that any way you want to. I don’t sleep 56 hours, but you might. That leaves 52 hours. I guess my question is, “What do you do with that 52 hours?” If the average child gets 7 ½ minutes a week of daddy’s time, what do you do with that 52 hours? What do you do as a wife? What do you do as a husband with that time?
Time is a thing we can steal from each other very, very easily. You get bugged at your husband a little bit, so you know he’s gonna be home on Thursday, so you plan things so you’ll be gone on Thursday. “I’ll show him. He’s gonna be home; I’ll be gone. He’s always gone; I’m gonna be gone.”
A husband--he could come home at 6 o’clock or 5 o’clock, but he chooses to go play racquetball or something weird. See (Laughter), see? Nothin’ wrong with racquetball, but if it’s consistently taking time away from a spouse, and you’re doing it for any ... you know, and we do it for all kinds of reasons. I say, “Well, I go play racquetball five times a week because I want to be healthy,” and his marriage is going right in the pits.
See, what do you do with your time? What do you do with those 52 hours that you have? How much of that kind of time does your wife get? How much of that time does your husband get? And how constructive is that time as you spend it together? What kind of time do your children get out of that? See, there’s a lot of factors in there that have to be dealt with.
The second thing that I wrote down is the other thing we can steal is individuality--not allowing our spouse to be themselves whichever direction. I just wrote these things down and this was just over this last year. My wife, and I’m not saying anything great or bad about Carol; this is just Carol. She’s an RN and she works usually two days a week at the hospital, sometimes three, but usually two. She’s president of the district PTA, which is a very time-consuming thing. She’s on the drug abuse council for the city of Redlands. She’s in the church choir. She’s a member of the missions board at the church and an officer in the missionary society for women. She’s a wife and she’s a mother.
Now that’s a lot of things. And I can respond and sometimes I respond negatively ‘cause she tends to take on tons. And she’s amazing. She gets an amazing amount of things done. But sometimes I get bugged and I’ll say, “Honey, don’t take on (Sound of banging hand on table) one more thing!” you know, “That’s enough.” (Laughter) And uh ... and I get bugged sometimes.
But you know something, if I said to Carol tomorrow, “Don’t ... you know, this next year, you’re not gonna do any of these. Here are six things, seven things; I don’t want you to do any of these.” “Well, what can I do?” “Well, don’t do anything; just stay home,” I would destroy my wife.
My wife thrives in those areas. Her whole personhood is locked up in that, see? And somewhere in there, I have to … and she has to make adjustments backwards sometimes and she does. She backs out of certain things, because she knows it’s robbing time on the other end. But that’s her and I want her to be her.
I’m gonna talk about one of the days this week. I’m just gonna talk about some things that have changed in my prayer life about how I pray about myself and my wife. I ... I’ve changed a lot in the last six months, and I think it’s helped me allow her to be a person more than I used to. And I think wives have to do the same thing for husbands. I’m talking about from a husband’s standpoint now.
The third thing I wrote down is money. Um ... you know, one … every now and then you get a ... you get one member of a marriage that will do weird things. You know, the guy that buys five cars in one year because he thinks it’s fun, you know. And … and they can’t make the house payment; that’s crazy. You know, that’s just craziness. Some people have the kind of money they can buy five cars in a year and it doesn’t even make their bank account hiccup, but there are other people who can’t do that. See, mine would do more than that if I got into some weird way of doing things. But … but how do we handle those kinds of things? We can rob each other there. We can be … we can be very tight in those areas or we can be ridiculous in those areas and create so much stress that we cannot cope.
John: Some great insights from Pastor Bob Kraning, on Focus on the Family as he works his way through a list of 4 ways that couples tend to “steal” from each other in marriage. And you can get a CD of this program when you make a generous donation of any amount to this ministry. Help us help you and other couples stay strong when you donate at focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 1-800-A-FAMILY. And now, more from Pastor Bob Kraning.
Bob: The fourth thing I wrote down and maybe the most important, is trust. You know something? I hope you have been together long enough to know the vulnerable areas of your spouse. I … I am convinced that every person in this room is fragile in some areas. You know, sometimes I see a guy. I ... there’s a guy who comes to Forest Home and he’s not here this week, but he’s a good guy and I like him. But I’ve heard him say things about his wife and to his wife or to somebody about his wife and I’ve seen expressions on her face that are scary. And he’s kind of a big guy and he kinda does everything that way, you know. And he’ll share something that, in my mind, it’s kind of inside marriage stuff. And he’ll kind … it’s kind of in jest toward her and … and I’ve been at a table with them on two occasions where I just felt like she died.
I want to tell you some things. There are some things that you can know about the Kranings and there are some things you’ll never know. And I hope that’s true of every couple in this place. There are things that are private to the Kranings. There are things that are private to Carol. But I know them and if I somewhere breach that privacy, I can really clobber and rob something that is very, very dear to both of us. There are intimacies in a marriage and in a love relationship that just ought not to go outside. And the longer you are married, the more you’re aware of the fragile areas of your spouse. And gals, I don’t care how tough he seems to be, I’ll guarantee you, he’s got some glass in him somewhere. And if you get a hammer to it at the right time, you’re gonna break it.
And I think every guy that’s been married any length of time knows that you’ve got a wife who has some fragile spots. And boy, to me, the trust that we have with one another, things that I know about Carol that only belong to us, things that she knows about me that only belong to us. They don’t belong to anybody else. And if I suddenly at a table at Forest Home blurt out something in some moment to get a laugh, I can destroy my wife. And I can destroy a thing that we have that is beautiful. Boy, there are intimate things that we can rob from one another. I don’t care how long we’ve been married; we can rob them and we can use them to cheat and hurt and clobber. It can be very, very destructive and sometimes unfortunately, very thoughtlessly, really not intending to hurt. But I hope you know that. Time, individuality, money and trust. You can add to your list 10 more things.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification.” Isn’t it interesting, you know, I’ve preached on that. But I’ve always preached it, kind of, as the family of God. And I think that’s very valid, I think that’s what’s written. But, boy, if there’s ever a place where that’s critical, it’s within the structure of a marriage. How do you express your joys? How do you express your sorrows? How do you express your anger? How do you express your happiness? It’s with words. How do we use words? How do you use your words? Have you ever said something to your spouse that the minute you said it, you’d give anything if you could take it back. You’d just give anything, or an hour later. And you spend the next 7 hours apologizing for one statement. Five days later, you’re still making apologies for one statement. Just some words that were a shot. Just a bullet that went out. “Let no unwholesome word proceedeth out of your mouth, but only those things that are good for edification, to build up, to help.”You know, I am convinced that in most of our marriages if we could really guard our tongues, we could solve about 90 percent of our problems. It’s the little statements that we make. It’s the little shots that we take. It’s the little bullets that go out of the end of the gun that we then have to spend great amounts of time recovering from.
And he warns us. He warns us within the family of God. And certainly, if it’s important there, it’s gotta be important in our own homes. The little shots that we take at our kids, sometimes, the things that we say to them that are devastating, it’s all words. And He just reminds us, you know, that it’s very, very important. “Words,” I wrote down, “Words tend to last. They tend to stay around.” And remember that that person you’re married to is fragile. Be careful what you say.
And then the final thing: “And do not grieve the Spirit of God,” he says and then he comes down. And he says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. You know, I think if there’s anything that Carol and I have done in 25 years, it’s learned to forgive and forget.
“Tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” I think if there’s anything that Carol and I have done, it’s been to forgive quickly and get it out of our system and get it over with and make it permanent. And boy, that seems to be critical to me. Learn to forgive.
And I just wrote down at the end ... you know it’s interesting, when you look back over your years of marriage. It’s basically the good times that you remember. It’s the fun we take pictures of. Did you ever notice that? Did you ever look through pictures, album, and see pictures of arguments and (Laughter), you know, giant hassles, you know. “Hey! Here’s our biggie we had ‘58,” you know. And here’s the husband slamming the door as he walks out in the street, you know. And here’s the wife driving her car in anger, you know. Isn’t it funny? We don’t keep pictures of those things.
I looked through our picture albums the other night--we’ve got a stack of them--and I flipped through some of ‘em. And I saw a week we spent at Lake Havasu in a tent. I saw a whole flock of pictures of our two kids about that big the first time we ever went snow skiing. I saw a trip that Carol and I took when I made $58 a week and we saved a year to go for three days. And I still have pictures of that. (Choking Up with Emotion)
Those are the things you keep pictures of, not the crud. You get through the crud, so you got 50 years of pictures to look at, because those are the things that excite you about your marriage. Those are the things you laugh about. Those are the things you have fun about.
I saw a ... some pictures of the guys at the University of Redlands that I did the Bible study with for two years. I saw pictures of a five-day thing we did at Lake Powell with some friends with all the kids. It was a zoo (Laughter), but gosh, it was fun. That’s what’s in our book. And that’s why you work through your problems. And that’s why you work through your hassles. And that’s why you work through the things that are tough, so you got [sic] good pictures to look at in the times that are good.
My wife and I walked in the room the other night of our oldest boy who’s getting married the 31st. And he’s always lived at our house; this’ll be the first time he’s been gone. We walked in his room the other night and we just looked around the room and all the pictures. He’s got pictures all over his walls of his high school football days, his college football days, his friends, Forest Home, the five summers he worked here, guys that he worked with, trophies. He’s got a couple shelves of trophies that he won playin’ ball.
And we stood in there and we cried a little bit, but we said, “Wow! What a privilege; what a privilege to have 22 years with this kid.” If God takes him tomorrow, what a privilege we’ve had to have 22 years with him. Hey, that’s what our family’s all about and that’s what our 25 years is all about. And that’s what our little picture albums are all about, because we’ve worked through some hassles and we’ve worked through some crud to have the privilege.
God, help us just to be Your people and to love and to care for one another in a way that makes You know that we love You and that we love each other. We’ll thank You for it in Christ’s name, amen.
John: What a great way to put conflict into perspective. We’ve been listening to the wisdom of Pastor Bob Kraning as he reflected on 25 years of marriage with his wife, Carol.
Jim: And now Bob and Carol have been married over 60 years and as Bob said, it’s not because they’re perfect people. I love that! There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, either. We’re all sinners saved by grace and we’re working out our sanctification with the Lord as we go through this life. Each one of us who have claimed Christ as our Savior.
Here at Focus, we’ve been seeing so many young married couples, John, who contact us and say my marriage isn’t working out, I must have married the wrong person. But so often, it’s a combination of unrealistic expectations and a lack of relationship skills. And perhaps there’s an attraction developing at the office with someone else-- that is not the answer! I love that old quote, “Life isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it.” And that’s what Bob is saying, in essence, water and feed your marriage. And invest in it! And you, too, can have a rewarding, fulfilling relationship that will literally last a lifetime. And I’d also like to point out that we also hear from older listeners who are now in their second or maybe third marriages and they’re having the same problems as they had in their first marriage. And if that’s the situation you’re facing, let me just say, as kindly as I can-- the common denominator in all those relationships is you. There may be something that you’re not dealing with in your character and how you relate to your spouse. I’d like to suggest that you work on that-- don’t just walk away from yet another relationship. Let me offer you a lifeline; call us here at Focus. We have Christian counselors who specialize in marriage, who would consider it a privilege to spend some time with you on the phone and give you those first steps to consider. We would love to help you. Also, you can visit us online and check out our Marriage Assessment Tool-- 280,000 people have done it! It’s designed to help you identify your strengths and your weaknesses of your relationship with your spouse.
John: Yeah, I’ve taken it, it’s very useful, and, even if you just need a quick tune-up, you’ll find a link to the Marriage Assessment and our counseling team at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: That wasn’t too painful to do it, was it John? (laughter)
John: No, it was fun-- it was fun to be able to go through and just say, oh, we’re pretty good there or oh, we need to work on that.
Jim: And that’s great. It’s like a 10-minute--
John: Not even--
Jim: -- tune-up. So that’s great. If Focus on the Family has helped your marriage, please, make a donation today and when you do, we’ll say thank you by sending you a copy of the CD from Bob Kraning.
John: And that’s yours for a donation of any amount to this ministry. Again, the website focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 800-A-FAMILY.
Well, next time, be with us as Michael Fichera explains why we shouldn’t worry about the difficult situations we may be facing.
Michael Fichera: But for anyone who’s struggling with, whatever the issue is, could be financial, could be personal, relational, diagnosis, health-wise, it doesn’t matter-- Jesus is the sameyesterday, and forever.
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Bob KraningView Bio
Reverend Bob Kraning is the former CEO of Forest Home Christian Camps and has over 50 years of full-time ministry experience. Though he retired in 2000, Bob still enjoys serving as a guest teacher at several churches in Southern California. Bob and his wife, Carol, currently reside in Southern California and have two sons and several grandchildren.